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Pumpkin Hill Gravekeeper
Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After years of "Haunting" I am finally expanding to add sound to a prop. An animated skeletal Raven to be specific. While I am a whiz at building, animating and lighting my props, I am a complete moron when it comes to sound. I literally KNOW NOTHING. The full extent of the sound I have used to this point is a "boom box" with a CD to add ambient background sound. That's as far as my capabilities go.

So I am asking the brilliant people here, what specifically, would I need to add a single repeating sound to a singular prop that is also small enough to hide inside the prop. My plan is to add such sounds to several props, if I can get it to work with the one. Feel free to explain it like you would a five year old, because that is my level of knowledge when it comes to sound technology.
 

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Interesting project. To go into any specifics, you'd have to tell us more specifically what you want.

Are you looking for a turn-key/ plug-n-play device or are you comfortable soldering or working with a 'bare bones' device where you may have to add wires, speakers, etc? (C'mon its easy!! :D) Are you going to supply your own speaker or want the device to come with a speaker? Is it OK if the sound screeches out of a small ~1 to 2 inch speaker on the device or are you wanting to send it to your boom box? The sound you intend to record - is it something like you throwing your voice in a haunted moan or scream (an 'analog' sound/noise), or are you looking to record a digital sound such as a sample from a CD/MP3, downloaded sound file, etc? How do you want the sound to repeat? A simple time delay... every X seconds? on some sort of a motion sensor? Step pad? when a ToT actually pushes a button or does an action like opening a lid? What sort of power do you have or can you provide? batteries? 'wall wart' plug-in power supply? specific voltages that you already have - or can easily provide? are you wanting to provide power from the prop or as a stand-alone device?

Probably a dozen more questions but these will help get started.

At the very low end of the spectrum, I'd say search for something like "ISD1820 Sound Voice Recording Playback Module" for about $4 you get a self-contained module which runs on 3-5V and can record ~10 seconds of voice/sound and play that back when triggered. Sometimes you can find it as a kit with a small speaker if you want to go that route.
 

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Pumpkin Hill Gravekeeper
Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
Joined
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1,524 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting project. To go into any specifics, you'd have to tell us more specifically what you want.

Are you looking for a turn-key/ plug-n-play device or are you comfortable soldering or working with a 'bare bones' device where you may have to add wires, speakers, etc? (C'mon its easy!! :D) Are you going to supply your own speaker or want the device to come with a speaker? Is it OK if the sound screeches out of a small ~1 to 2 inch speaker on the device or are you wanting to send it to your boom box? The sound you intend to record - is it something like you throwing your voice in a haunted moan or scream (an 'analog' sound/noise), or are you looking to record a digital sound such as a sample from a CD/MP3, downloaded sound file, etc? How do you want the sound to repeat? A simple time delay... every X seconds? on some sort of a motion sensor? Step pad? when a ToT actually pushes a button or does an action like opening a lid? What sort of power do you have or can you provide? batteries? 'wall wart' plug-in power supply? specific voltages that you already have - or can easily provide? are you wanting to provide power from the prop or as a stand-alone device?

Probably a dozen more questions but these will help get started.

At the very low end of the spectrum, I'd say search for something like "ISD1820 Sound Voice Recording Playback Module" for about $4 you get a self-contained module which runs on 3-5V and can record ~10 seconds of voice/sound and play that back when triggered. Sometimes you can find it as a kit with a small speaker if you want to go that route.
Turn key is not necessary. I am more than comfortable with doing any wiring/building/modifying that is required. I actually have a speaker that I want to use. Its small enough to easily hide but loud enough to project the sound realistically. I already have a mp3 file of a raven cawing as well. I want the sound to loop, since that seems the easiest way to do it. My props and lights are all on timers, set to come on at dark and stay on until midnight. I want the sound to do the same. I hate batteries and actually modify any props to make them run on walwarts or normal 120 volts. I would prefer the sound do the same. Power from the prop is preferable, since its already there. I've tried the ISD1820 Sound Voice Recording Playback Module or an equivalent and found they are not loud enough for my purposes. The props are all outside and ambient noise tends to drown out that tiny speaker. I modified to the largest speaker that the board would power and it was still not loud enough.
 

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If you are comfortable with the DIY board route and the main issue with the 1820 is sound volume, you might team it with a simple amplifier for greater volume. Cheap TDA2030A style boards are typically billed as ~15 watt mono amplifiers, though some of the modified versions seem to claim stereo / 18 watts and up. Alternately, you can often find cheap internally amplified computer speakers at garage sales, thrift stores, or general wholesalers on the internet. Obviously none of these solutions are going to be 'concert quality', but should boost up the volume and be great for raven caws, etc.
 

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Pumpkin Hill Gravekeeper
Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you are comfortable with the DIY board route and the main issue with the 1820 is sound volume, you might team it with a simple amplifier for greater volume. Cheap TDA2030A style boards are typically billed as ~15 watt mono amplifiers, though some of the modified versions seem to claim stereo / 18 watts and up. Alternately, you can often find cheap internally amplified computer speakers at garage sales, thrift stores, or general wholesalers on the internet. Obviously none of these solutions are going to be 'concert quality', but should boost up the volume and be great for raven caws, etc.
I sort of understand what your talking about, so let me ask a question for clarification. I have the device pictured below. I have already modified it so it plays in a loop and runs on a walwart. I have already loaded the sound to it and replaced the 0.5w speaker with a 1.0w speaker that is as big as this board can (supposedly) handle. This little board does exactly what I want it to, except it is not loud enough. So you are saying that with the TDA2030A I can increase the speaker size? If so, do I connect the "speaker" points of this board to the audio input of the amp board? Then get a bigger 15w speaker and attach it to the output of that board. I have to get power to that board as well, of course. Is 15w really loud? Too loud? I do not know how to make a comparison.

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... So you are saying that with the TDA2030A I can increase the speaker size? If so, do I connect the "speaker" points of this board to the audio input of the amp board? Then get a bigger 15w speaker and attach it to the output of that board. I have to get power to that board as well, of course. Is 15w really loud? Too loud? I do not know how to make a comparison.
That would be the general theory, yes. The 2030 is an audio amplifier, so you would take the +/- output of your board and apply to the +/- input of the 2030, then your speaker would connect to the amplified speaker outputs of the 2030. I think your board and the 2030 both have volume adjustments. You'd probably want the input to be at a fairly modest level so it doesn't blow out the input levels on the amp. So some experimentation would be in order.

As far as a larger speaker, generally 'yes' you should be able to go larger. Going all the way up to 15W ...well, keep in mind, these are Chinese made and rated boards, so running full out at 15W for long periods might be a stretch. I also haven't seen a lot of specifications, you might do some digging and see if you come up with the supported impedance for the amp. You can probably find 1 ohm, 2 ohm, 4 ohm, 8 ohm... etc speakers rated for 15W. I'd suspect such a small/simple amp would have trouble toward the lower end of that range, so if no other info is available, maybe assume a 4-8 ohm speaker would be 'safe'.

Also on the speaker itself - you don't mention, but keep in mind that a speaker in free air is going to be relatively quiet no matter what. You really need to have some type of enclosure, or ideally a horn to boost up the volume in the intended direction.
 

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Pumpkin Hill Gravekeeper
Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That would be the general theory, yes. The 2030 is an audio amplifier, so you would take the +/- output of your board and apply to the +/- input of the 2030, then your speaker would connect to the amplified speaker outputs of the 2030. I think your board and the 2030 both have volume adjustments. You'd probably want the input to be at a fairly modest level so it doesn't blow out the input levels on the amp. So some experimentation would be in order.

As far as a larger speaker, generally 'yes' you should be able to go larger. Going all the way up to 15W ...well, keep in mind, these are Chinese made and rated boards, so running full out at 15W for long periods might be a stretch. I also haven't seen a lot of specifications, you might do some digging and see if you come up with the supported impedance for the amp. You can probably find 1 ohm, 2 ohm, 4 ohm, 8 ohm... etc speakers rated for 15W. I'd suspect such a small/simple amp would have trouble toward the lower end of that range, so if no other info is available, maybe assume a 4-8 ohm speaker would be 'safe'.

Also on the speaker itself - you don't mention, but keep in mind that a speaker in free air is going to be relatively quiet no matter what. You really need to have some type of enclosure, or ideally a horn to boost up the volume in the intended direction.

A horn? Any suggestions? I need something small enough to hide it from sight behind or inside the prop.
 

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If you just want a simple looping audio, pick up one of these “mp3 decoder board”. Load a microSD card with as many noises as you like and it will loop through over and over. Has a 3W amp for medium volume. Or can use line audio to a different amplifier or powered speaker. Power with a usb wall wart.
 

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Could be anything simple. Cut a hole and mount the speaker in a small box, cut a hole and mount the speaker in a piece of cardboard, cut off the bottom of a paper/plastic drink cup and use that as a horn to mount the speaker. Anything to get the sound to 'project' a bit will make the speaker seem louder. If the speaker is in 'free air' - just by itself, then most of the sound waves it generates from the front just 'short circuit' around to the back side. Mounting it in most anything will produce a bit louder sound
 

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Pumpkin Hill Gravekeeper
Craft my own animated props, create a huge display, visit local "Haunted Events"
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Could be anything simple. Cut a hole and mount the speaker in a small box, cut a hole and mount the speaker in a piece of cardboard, cut off the bottom of a paper/plastic drink cup and use that as a horn to mount the speaker. Anything to get the sound to 'project' a bit will make the speaker seem louder. If the speaker is in 'free air' - just by itself, then most of the sound waves it generates from the front just 'short circuit' around to the back side. Mounting it in most anything will produce a bit louder sound
Could be anything simple. Cut a hole and mount the speaker in a small box, cut a hole and mount the speaker in a piece of cardboard, cut off the bottom of a paper/plastic drink cup and use that as a horn to mount the speaker. Anything to get the sound to 'project' a bit will make the speaker seem louder. If the speaker is in 'free air' - just by itself, then most of the sound waves it generates from the front just 'short circuit' around to the back side. Mounting it in most anything will produce a bit louder sound
Got it. Thanks.
 
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